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Review: Aria - Guest from the Shadow Kingdom
Guest from the Shadow Kingdom

Label: M2BA
Year released: 2019
Duration: 2:04:00

Rating: 5/5

Review online: September 28, 2019
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Guest from the Shadow Kingdom

Rated 4.92/5 (98.33%) (12 Votes)

Aria have been at it for some 35 years now, not all that known in the Western hemisphere but quite the heavy hitters in their home country of Russia and in Eastern Europe. I first came across the band in the early 2000s when someone told me, "you should check them out; they're like a Russian Iron Maiden." The influences are certainly there musically, and this live DVD, filmed in Moscow in April 2019, shows that the band can also bring on the over-the-top live visuals as well.

The show is about two hours long with very little downtime, so you sure get a lot for your money with this one. Lots of Aria musical greatness, but what really steals the show here is the jaw-dropping stage set. The ship on the cover if their last album, Curse of the Seas, serves as the mainstay, with a large LED screen used for the backdrop and smaller (but still big) ones used to display various images throughout the show. I couldn't help but think of a mix of stage sets from Iron Maiden, Metallica and AC/DC, what with the amazing lighting, a walkway and even a flying system that the singer uses to hover over the crowd to dramatic effect at times. The LED screens make for a very diverse display all throughout the show and often make you believe that the entire set has been replaced instantaneously—words cannot do it justice. Did I mention pyrotechnics? Yep, they've got those too. Throw in a good dose of costumes, mostly worn by the singer but sometimes by the other members, and you've got quite the theatrics.

The filming and editing is near perfect. Many times I've seen live DVDs that were ruined by boring camera shots or by the video jumping way too quickly between the different members. Here it's about as good as it gets. They do switch views a lot, but always tastefully and often very well timed with the songs, so you get a view of a guitarist or the drummer, for example, at just the right time to highlight a part played by that musician. There are a lot of crowd shots that are also well placed throughout. Frankly, there's nothing to criticize there; this made the show just great to watch. Other bands wanting to release a DVD may seriously want to check this out and learn a lesson or two in how to do it right.

The band's performance is just great as well, showing a tight, well-rehearsed group that has a lot of experience under its belt. I must say the fluorescent drumsticks were ... interesting, to say the least. ;) While I've seen bands move around a lot more on stage, here the members still manage to make good use of the three-level set and the sheer fact that they're having fun is not only visible, but you can feel it.

Bottom line, this is one of the best live shows I've seen, on DVD or in person. Throughout the show and up until the end, I couldn't help but think, "I wish I had been there to see this in person."

Additional Information

Includes a 2-CD version of the show.

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